BONN, Germany (AP) — Russia will rejoin the Paralympics after a suspension of more than two years for widespread doping, the International Paralympic Committee said Friday.
The IPC ruled reforms in Russian sport to crack down on doping and limit government interference are enough to allow the country to compete under its own flag ahead of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
The committee has given up on a demand that Russian authorities should admit to the findings of a report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren which led to the Russian Paralympic Committee’s suspension in August 2016.
“Keeping the RPC suspended is no longer necessary and proportionate to the situation we now face,” IPC president Andrew Parsons said.
The reinstatement formally takes effect by March 15.
Parsons added the IPC believes Russia would “most probably never accept” the McLaren report and that an indefinite stalemate would hurt the country’s athletes.
The IPC will monitor Russian Paralympic affairs through at least 2022, impose extra drug-testing for Russian athletes and could immediately re-suspend the country if it breaches conditions to be unveiled next month. Those will include an automatic suspension if WADA decides Russia’s national anti-doping agency doesn’t meet international rules.
“The Paralympic movement and para-athlete community are now ready to welcome the RPC and Russian para-athletes back into the fold,” Parsons said. “They should be under no illusions, however, that their every action going forward will be heavily scrutinized, not just by the IPC and other para-athletes, but by the entire world.”
Russia was completely barred from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, though 30 athletes from the country were allowed to enter as Neutral Paralympic Athletes for last year’s Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Russia is a perennial power in Paralympic sports. It topped the medals table when it hosted the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and in London two years earlier its gold-medal count was second only to China.
Documents from Moscow’s anti-doping lab revealed in McLaren’s 2016 investigation showed that failed drug tests were covered up for athletes across numerous sports, including some with disabilities.
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